Wild Goose Farm LLC

  (Grayslake, Illinois)
Stories from my adventure in farming
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Moving the blog

In order to simplify life I've moved my blogging to another site. You can find out what's going on at Wild Goose Farm by following the link below to a new blog site. You'll be able to see pictures and read the CSA newsletters as well. Thanks for checking me out. See you at the new blog!



Wild Goose Farm on the Radio!

Yesterday I got to talk with radio talk show host Mike Nowak on WPCT 820 AM. I had a great time talking about being a beginning farmer and my experience at the Farm Business Development Center at Prairie Crossing. It was short, but thrilling all the same! If you want to check it out here's a link: http://www.mikenowak.net/podcasts/

 It's the May 1st show and my interview is in the last 10 minutes of the show. Hope I get the chance to do it again!


Hoop House is Up!

The Hoop House is up!! I can't tell you how excited I am. Last week I had some family come out and help me finish up the base and put on the plastic. It turned out to be a longer day than expected, but it was well worth the extra effort. I only had to make one run to the hardware store. I think that shows I was well prepared for the day. My parents, our friend Don and I all celebrated our accomplishment at a local burger joint where we toasted to our efforts and enjoyed the earned rest. 

Not only is the hoop house up, but after a week it is still standing. I'm still working on a more permanent door solution. Right now the endwalls are just curtains of greenhouse plastic. I'm still trying to figure out how much I want to engineer the endwalls. 

I can't wait to start planting in there, but unfortunately, I will have to wait. The water isn't turned on out in the fields. That has to come first. Then, once the tomatoes are old enough, I'll be able to get in there and start growing. Oooh, I am excited. Fresh, homegrown tomatoes, here I come!


Baby It's Cold Outside!

It's an absolutely beautiful, sunny day here in northern Illinois. It looks so warm and inviting until you step outside and have your breath cut short by the cold. The snow may be gone but winter is not letting go yet. I'm seeding my peppers this week. It feels funny to be seeding a warm weather crop when it's still so cold out, but it's time. Surely it will be warm by the end of May!

The upside to all this cold is that the road out to the fields isn't a slippery mess. It's much easier driving out there now that the mud is frozen! It's chilly out there working on my hoop house. But the days are getting longer and I am loving that!


March Lion Roars

Brrrr! It has suddenly gotten so cold out on the farm! I was hoping to start working on my new hoop house again this week, but no dice. I did venture down the very muddy farm road yesterday to drop off some tools for my neighboring farmer. That was an adventure! The big red beast-of-a-truck I drive did very well. Trouble is the farm road isn't very wide and it has a ditch on each side. There isn't a wide margin of error if I start to swerve. I made though, with a few close calls. Now the truck has got some serious mud splashes. Ahh, welcome to spring on the farm!

The greenhouse is actually turning green now. The onions, kale, broccoli, and even most of the herbs are up.  I am definitely enjoying the warmth and shelter from the tempestuous March weather. This week I seeded peppers and the tomatoes that will go in the hoop house. Plus, a few flowers. For some reason I just can't not plant flowers. I just love seeing them on the farm.

Well, stay warm, Spring will come. Oh, and there are still CSA shares available! Sign up today!


Is this Spring I Smell?

  It's a beautiful sunny day here in northern IL. I can't believe it, but it actually smells like spring! It's warm and our mountains of snow are starting to melt. Each week in February has had its own distinct weather. First week in Feb: The Snow-pocolypse; Second week in February: The Deep Freeze; and now in this third week: The Melt Down! We're supposed to get rain this week! Nature always has to keep you on your toes, even in winter!

Weather Outside is Frightful

Batten Down the Hatches! It looks like we're in for a big storm tonight and tomorrow. Schools have planned an early release and my off farm job called to let me know not to come in to work tonight! Hurray! Snow day!

So what shall I do with my new found freedom? Plan for the spring of course! It's the next best thing to cozying up to a fire. Seed packets have started to arrive already. I file through them and picture what they will look like in a few short months. I'll even be planting some at the end of this month. Yikes!

 Today's goal is to plot out where each crop is going to go on my farm map. It's a lot like putting a puzzle together. I have to keep my crop rotation in mind as well as which fields stay wetter, longer into the spring. For example, my onions are one of the first crops I plant in the fields, so I need to put them in a field that dries out quickly. The tomatoes don't go in until the end of May, so they can go in a field that stays wet a little longer.

Farming is a lot like one big logic puzzle. It definitely keeps you on your toes. Stay warm everybody! I've got my candles ready, have you?


Windy Winter Day

Wow, the wind today is biting! I ventured out to the greenhouse to nurse along some potted herbs I have overwintering there. The heater isn't turned on yet. I'm just using it as a protection for my herbs from the winter and the truly bitter temperatures. About every three days I'll go in and water them. Some are doing well, others I wonder if they'll survive. One thing that I've learned about farming is that everything is an adventure. You're never know what the outcome will be. 

 Though the wind is cold, I mean really cold, it's nice to leave the house andgo out into the farm buildings. It helps remind me that I am a farmer and what I enjoy about farming; something that shouldn't be so easy to forget, but somehow I need that reminder. In the winter I can lose perspective since most, if not all, farming is cerebral now. The sharp wind and the moving around the farm buildings reminds me of the tangible reality of farming. All the things I'm planning will one day start to take physical shape. I will once more dip my hands in the freshly tilled earth, hear the roar of the tractor's engine, and experience the shock of walking into a greenhouse full of sprouts that just the day before were still hidden by the soil.

For now though, I must be content with my potted herbs that I visit throughout the week, the pictures in the seed catalogs and even the blustery winter wind. It is enough.  


Seeds Ordered!

After cuddling up with a few of my favorite seed catalogs the last few weeks I finally have the seeds ordered for the 2011 season! It may seem a little crazy to order seeds so early in January, but I can assure you it is quite wise. I order early so that I can get most if not all the varieties that I want. Even though I've ordered the seed just after the new year there are a handful of varieties of vegetables that are already back-ordered! Most will come in long before I need them, thankfully. 

Soon the boxes of seeds will be coming in the mail. With each one comes a little reminder that spring is coming. We may be in the middle of winter now, but winter won't last forever. Looking at the seed catalogs in the dead of winter is a great way to battle cabin fever and the winter blues. They are full of beautiful pictures and various possibilities. I dream of what I want to grow (a little of everything). Nothing fails to grow, but weeds. Ah the dreams of a farmer. 

So tonight I'll curl up with my hot chocolate, dream of my beautiful farm-to-be and sigh the contented sigh of a job well done.


Winter Projects

I admit it, I love winter! I took a hike today to enjoy the crisp air and the beautiful wintry landscape. The temps have climbed back into the balmy upper 20's so it was time to gear up and head out. I brought along my backpack so I could collect items to put into a wreath I'm making. It got quite full rather quickly. I spent the rest of the time enjoying the fresh air and the crunch of the snow under my feet. I ended up spending the whole morning outside. That hasn't happened since the weather turned bitterly cold. It was so refreshing. After spending most of the summer outside it has been strange to spend so much time inside. It was a nice break from all the planning I've been doing for next year. I still have a long way to go before I'm ready for the seeds to start arriving though. So far that's the project list for this farmer; make a wreath, and plan out a farm. I'm sure I come up with something else soon. :)

A Winter Nap

  Wow, we had quite a busy season this year! November has finally brought a welcome rest to the frantic growing season. The farmers markets went extremely well. It is always so fun to see people and build our friendships over the summer. The CSA was another success. Some weeks there was so much produce that it barely fit in the boxes!

   Now, I can finally take some time to look back over the year and plan for the next season. It's so much fun to look at all the seed catalogs and think of all the possibilities. There are already a few crops in the field for next year; garlic, sunchokes, and egyptian walking onions! Don't those sound fun? I can't wait to try them. 


Rainy Days

It has turned rainy and cold here in northern Illinois. The pressure to start working in the fields is off. Now it's time to focus on some inside projects. I bought a used hoop house a couple of weeks ago. I'll spend today figuring out how to put it back together and where I want it to go. 

The greenhouse is jumping with life. My first seedlings are almost ready to go outside and get used to being in the real world. They grow up so fast! 


Spring Cleaning

March is quite the interesting month, isn't it? You never know what to expect. After a beautiful week of sunshine and warmth we were blanketed with a solid downfall of snow. That quickly disappeared and we're back to sunshine. But it certainly stopped me in my tracks when I opened the door and looked at a December-esque landscape. 

Now that we're back to spring I've done some checking up on my fields. The garlic has jumped up and is looking quite healthy. I'm so excited for my first crop of garlic. I have visions of delicious fresh garlic is all sorts of dishes and beautiful braids of softneck garlic to hang. 

I've also checked on my hive of bees. I was greeted by worker bees already out and exploring for nectar and pollen sources. Unfortunately the hive has also become a home for a nest of mice. There are some repairs that have to be made, but for now the bees look healthy. I am thrilled to see them out and about. 

Seeding in the greenhouse is marching along. This week it's lettuce and flowers. Don't you just love spring?


First Sprouts of the Year

The first of the sprouts have arrived, onions! In a mere 8 days the first of the onions sprouts have appeared. It still takes some searching to find them, but they are there. It's a wonderful feeling to see those first little shoots. I have to keep myself from digging at my seeds trays. I just want to make sure they're growing. But I have to keep my hands off of them or else they won't grow well. It's a lesson in faith and patience. Now there's evidence that the season has begun. Hurray for spring!

It's Greenhouse Time!

Today was the first day in the greenhouse. It took a while to get back into the rhythm of seeding. First, I had to search for the watering wand and the tub I use for filling trays with soil. Funny how things never seem to stay where you put them. Once I had my supplies in order it was smooth sailing. Before I knew it the afternoon was over. I have about a quarter of the onions seeded. The rest of the week will be more onions and a few herbs. My mouth waters just thinking of it. 
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